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Education still priority for Walz as she moves from State House to Planned Parenthood

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  February 1, 2013 03:25 PM

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State Representative Martha “Marty” Walz will leave the State House next month to lead Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, but plans to continue to work on issues she focused on as a legislator.

“That’s also very appealing to me about this work is that I can continue to do work in the public education field as well,” Walz, a Democrat who represents the Back Bay, and portions of Beacon Hill, West End, and Cambridge, said in a phone interview Thursday.

Walz, who will become president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts in March, served as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education during the 2009-10 legislative session and helped craft the state’s anti-bullying law and 2010 education overhaul.

In her new role, Walz will continue to work on education isses by helping the organization expand its middle school and high school curriculum, which is already being taught in more than 100 schools.

Planned Parenthood--an organization that looks to “protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and freedom of choice,” according to the Massachusetts League’s website -- offers education programs that reach more than 40,000 students, parents and professionals.

“My hope is we can have far more schools using that curriculum across the state and I hope other states will adopt it,” Walz said.

During her tenure on Beacon Hill, Walz sponsored a 2007 law that established a 35-foot buffer zone around staff and patients visiting family planning clinics, and has supported family planning funding, teen pregnancy prevention programs, and health education.

Walz said she also plans to stay involved with some local education issues.

“It will be significantly scaled back, but there will be some issues I will find a way to stay engaged with,” she said.

Walz, who was first elected in 2005, said she cannot predict how much time her new role will allow her to stay involved, but plans to stay involved efforts to establish a public elementary school to serve families living in downtown neighborhoods.

“That’s an issue of such important to me and for the future or our downtown neighborhood,” she said.

Walz also said one of her most important duties will be to help the Planned Parenthood adjust to the new Massachusetts law that encourages a shift from fee-for-service billing to paying hospitals for overall patient care.

“Planned Parenthood is a major healthcare provider to thousands of women and men across the state. The organization, like every health care provider, needs to figure out how it is paid for the services it provides,” Walz said.

Planned Parenthood the largest freestanding reproductive health care provider in the state, holding 48,000 patient visits per year at seven health centers.

Though Walz plans to resign her legislative seat February 15, she said her staff will continue to work to help constituents until her successor is elected.

She did not know when the special election for seat would be scheduled.

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